Tuesday, September 04, 2012

all shook up

The end is coming. I can see it. This is kind if heavy thought on so many levels. Lots of things have been happening lately, but nothing has had me quite as shook up as the earth quake we had this past weekend.
I know some of you heard of it from the emails and messages that were waiting for me Monday morning. Oh the love.
This one was a big deal and we're pretty lucky.
It was off the coast of the other island in my region, Samar. It was pretty strong and lasted quite some time, even here quite a ways away. Things were falling over and my little room was swaying. Not to get my natural disasters confused but my thoughts were slightly Wizard of Ozish as I sat on my moving bed. I thought of getting in door way, but figured who has the time. I didn't know the earthquake would last forever.
Luckily it was based almost in the Philippine trench, and luckily it was more horizontal than vertical. We were out under tsunami alert (which me being in land doesn't affect) but nothing happened.
Quite and adventure.

extra behaved

Fact: third graders are wild and crazy, unless they aren't actually in your class.
The other day these boys came and joined my remedial reading class because there class was canceled. Best behaved pupils I've had.

table, schmable....

I never know what I'm going to get with this remedial reading program. Somedays we don't even have a table, so the kids make do.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

beware the wild things, they'll melt your heart.

I've mentioned before how this school year a remedial reading program was going to be added to my tasks. It started in July and it has been one struggle of an adventure.
First, the room. I'm in a huge conference hall maybe the size of a small gym. I have one long table. No desks. No chairs. One small chalk board that was brought in later. Two of those round florescent bulbs, and windows for lighting this big space. And two ceiling fans, which I could do a whole blog post on which fans are best. Hint, not ceiling fans. So, not the most conductive to learning environment.
Second, how education outside of the elite class of the school works. It's ignoring the kids making a mess in the CR. Its ignoring the kids not in your class coming in and running around. It's ignoring your own kids running in and out of the classroom. It's ignoring the kids going to the window and yelling across to their classmates in their rooms. It's ignoring the kids trying to throw their tsinellas onto the spinning ceiling fan. It's ignoring the kids hiding in the curtains on the stage. It's ignoring the millions of kids looking in the windows at the class. It's ignoring everything you learned in any educational psychology, classroom behavior, management class you took for all those semesters in college. I'm not quite there yet. The best part is when I tell other teachers, they really don't care.
Third, the pupils. The rotten, naughty, energetic pupils. I love them so hard. they are 8 and 9 year olds. I love their age group. Any and all attempts to figure out what their reading level's are got stuck in the fan with their paper airplanes. So we just do the best we can. They love taking notes, they love reciting, and love me. It's not as vain as it sounds, these kids are all about me. They wait for me at the gate to the school. Class goes until 3:00 because I have Grade 6. They know this, and yet everyday we barter. Teacher can we have class until 5? No, 3 la. 4? I have class at 3. Pout. They come to class when their teacher cancels their class. Yesterday morning I was with grade 5 when one of my students came peering through the window. His teacher cancelled class so he came to hang out with me. He sat for awhile outside, then told me when he was leaving. My grade 5 students wrote papers on their friends and thy kept using the compliment 'small but terrible', I love it. These rem readers are small but terrible and I love it. I'll try to post weekly anecdotes on them.
And really, who cares if they learn anything beyond all the lyrics to Down By the Bay? I'm leaving soon. Joke! But this approach does seem to be most successful here.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

pardon the absence

So I realize I've not posted anything in what feels like forever. I'm working on it.
This whole time here I've felt like I've been busy but not really done a lot. A very common Peace Corps feeling I think. However, this last month or so I've felt busy busy. Which is why I've not been the best at updates, but also why I really need to update.
So, heads up, blogs to come!

Friday, June 08, 2012

watering hole

Across the street from my house is a pump that gets a lot of use. I'm not sure if it's more public than other pumps or the water tastes better, but it's busy.
This evening these girls were filling up buckets to take home. They came over and talked to me about school. Eight of them lined up and giggling. Eight of them sisters. Eight, and the oldest is in grade 4. Sounds like the makings for a musical.
I'm going on a major limb of assumption but I doubt their mother is that much older than me, 26 and no kids.
When I came back from getting my camera there were only the five, but still five is a lot of sisters.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

back to the polyester

School started this week and I am so pumped about it.
This is the beginning of the end. Once school gets into the flow I'm pretty sure my months here will fly.
English is now only 80 minutes. I love this. One hundred minutes was a beast for everyone involved.
I've been given a bigger space for the library. I love this. The other space would have been fine, but I feel like they are extra pumped about it this year.
We've got huge plans for fundraising.
Starting in July I'll be helping with a reading program for slow and non-readers. I kind of forced myself into this, and I'm stoked.
Lots of good vibes going on and lessons haven't even started yet, and that's my favorite part.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Monday, June 04, 2012

that time we were attacked by monkeys

As kind of the last hurrah for summer I went and visited L in Baybay (pronounced bye bye). Baybay is on my same island, about 2 hours away, but is quite different than Alangalang. They have a bit of a different weather pattern than we do here, but similar enough. They also speak a different language, and really no one knows Waray.
Another big difference is tuba consumption. Here they drink it because the sun was or was not out today. There they need a special occasion. It was fiesta so we stopped at her neighbors and they had some that was extra Coked down and insisted on us drinking. They thought it was a big deal, and now love that L is a tuba drinker. They also acknowledged for us in the northern part it was no big deal. While we sat there drinking there was a bunch of young twenty-somethings who just stared at us too shy to even try to talk to us in English.
We didn't just party and get stared at, we used Saturday to raise our endorphin levels. She'd heard of wild monkeys near her, so we wanted to see. They. Were. Scary.
When we first saw them we were all alone and it was obvious by the way they hissed at us they didn't like us. Then Filipinos came through and the monkeys had no problems. We walked on towards the top of the mountain and there were monkeys on the trial. They hissed and showed us their scary flesh shredding teeth. We managed to go through and get to the top where the zip line was.
Poor L. She's afraid of heights, but was more afraid of going back through the monkeys. We got strapped into the harness an flew down to the bottom. It was amazing, and thy view was spectacular: mountains, forests, ocean.
A great day. A great weekend.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

my security detail

Every month I have to call in my higher ups and give a report on what i'm doing, how school is going, the like. Just a way to talk things out with my regional manager.
Another key part of monthly calls in is to make sure everything is going smoothly. This includes making sure my phone works and I have service, making sure I have a way to travel in and out of site. And the key one to this rigmarole safety and security.
Thanks to my mini PNP I've always been able to answer-nope, no safety and security concerns.

Friday, May 25, 2012

we speak happy

I've got some great neighbors. Today I spent the afternoon with them sharing tuba and stories.
They were digging deep to 'tackle' English as they put it and I was doing my best to speak Waray. One neighbor was kind of translating, but we were communicating. As best we could considering how much they'd been drinking.
As they put it the dialect was happiness and that's all you really need for a Friday afternoon.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

gone in a flash

Last night we had an amazing thunderstorm and it was welcome relief. I love thunderstorms, and I love how last nights thunderstorm made life more bearable. Things got cooler and I slept well for awhile.
It reminded me off another thunderstorm I wasn't so stoked about. I'd just got here to site and was home alone. In the middle of the night a storm rolled in and lighting stroke so incredibly close, and I was just certain it was a bad omen.
Well here we are a year and half later with many more miles under my belt than that storm had me thinking i'd manage.
I've been trying to be reflective of this latest installment of my time here. How have the last 6 months been? It's been hard because right now summer makes life more stagnant.
I love my community here and realize more and more just how much it spreads out. I'm always bumping into people I know at the mall or on a jeep. It's common fact that I go running, and they don't even notice when I've been slacking for a couple months (ya, I need to work on that). Total thumbs up on that front.
I've not been teaching in awhile, something to do with summer break. When I was teaching I was loving it. I for sure chose the right thing to pursue in life. I'm glad I'm not looking down the next 6 months thinking what next. I know what next. So, barring summer, I'd say thumbs up on that part.
As for the rest. A little more hesitant with the thumbs, but as ever optimistic. I've spent a lot of time at school this summer nagging and working on other projects. I've put myself out there to help other parts of this awesome town. So maybe one thumb up, one to the side. I'm very ready to come into the school year guns-a-blazing!
We'll see where those thumbs are 6 months on when all the miles are logged. As far as this marathon of my life goes I'm rocking about 10 more ks to home. I so can do that.

where are the may showers?

May has been hot, and rain has not been as prevalent as I'd like. So, needless to say I've been seeking a lot of sanctuary at the mall and other places with aircon.
This last weekend I met with C and M and went to Rafael's Farm. It was a nice shady and breezy escape from the heat. We had a nice lunch, went on a quick boat trip, and really talked things out. I'm glad for the proximity of these two wonderful people. It's crazy to think we once were six strong.
Earlier this month I got a little something awesome from home, and by a little something awesome I mean 6 giant boxes of books. My parents did an amazing job at wrangling books together. They shipped them in March from Vegas. The guy who ran the shop grew up in Manila, but his grandmother was from here! So he put a bunch of books in the shipment also! Now they are here and my school is so ready to get them used.
They are getting ready for school to start in general. This week is Brigada Eskwela. A week dedicated to clean up and registering. We met early Monday for canvassing, which involved all the teachers piling into giant trucks and driving about town and out to the far flung barangays on the high way. We met at 7, and we were sitting in the truck waiting to start and I was just sweating. Too hot.
That's really been it for summer. It's harvest time and there for fiesta time. The streets are lined with rice and parties. Not too bad a life, just needs more rain.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

tudlo mindanao

May 10 In April I had the amazing opportunity to help out with an English language camp Peace Corps does called Tudlo Mindanao. I feel so blessed to have had the experience, and here I'll put some highlights. You can email me if you want more details. -For most of the participants it was their first real seminar and they were so overjoyed to be a part of it. They came from such humble places in Mindanao and I think it meant a lot for them to have this opportunity. -The camp had an English only policy. At first participants were so quite but you could see their comfort levels increase and more English come out. -I was doing ICT and the excitement these teachers had with just being able to actually touch a computer was incredible. Very fun. -The camp wrapped up with a cultural show. The facilitators were taught some traditional dances that we performed in front of everybody. Then we also got to watch all the different regions perform for us. This experience was for sure a high light of my time here.

adventures are best when waterfalls are included

May 8 Last week was L's birthday so we had a bit of girls weekend. For her birthday dinner we went and ordered so much food at Ocho, which is a really nice seafood restaurant. Then we just enjoyed the city. The next day we headed to Biliran which is a third major island of Region 8. We wanted to go island hopping but had missed the tide. A nice Filipina at the resort helped us arrange a waterfall trip instead, and even went with us. This waterfall was amazing. It was super tall and kind of in the corner of two cliff faces. It opened up into a space that was maybe 75 meters wide and the top was all over grown. So the space was so calm. I loved it. The next day we went back to the resort early and took a boat out to a small island. It was beautiful. Great views. Great water. Nice get away from the heat. The next day we headed back to Leyte. I hadn't been feeling so good and was stoked to ride in a cramped over heated van back. Luckily H was on one side of me and this adorable little boy was on the other, so I didn't feel too cramped. The boy stared at us with the biggest eyes ever. He was so cute, and I can just imagine he'd have been more fun had I not felt so fragile. At one point, before his mother knew what was going on he reached up and touched my nose. She grabbed his hand real quick like, and I could hear him in his tiny voice tell her about how long my nose was. Love it. The next part I don't love as much, luckily he fell asleep and wasn't watching because I got sick. My original plan was to go to Tacloban and pick up laundry (including my sheets) and head back. But when I got sick we were just approaching the outer barangays of Alangalang, so I jumped ship and continued to spend the rest of the day puking. When I woke up yesterday my legs were covered in red bites that just got itchier the hotter it got. I picked up my laundry and saw Avengers and spent today avoiding heat and recuperating.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

bangkok or bust

I'm finally in Thailand via a lot of waiting. I was sitting at the mall when a teacher from one of the school in Alangalang told me to take my time because the flights were delayed. I had no idea how delayed!
My 1:40 flight didn't leave until 3:40, but I was lucky. We took off right behind the 11:55 flight. It of course made me anxious for no reason. It was standing room only, and people for the 4:05 flight were waiting also (the planes just go back and forth, so their plane was the 11:55 flight). Luckily I knew someone there who let me sit with them. She was a teacher at the high school and ha worked with my site mate. She was there along with most of Alangalang. The Lingganay Dancers are performing at nationals on Saturday.
I got to Manila about 4:45 and then had to wait some more. This time I was all alone. I had some pizza. I wet through security. I had some noodles. I found a convenience store and had snacks an watched a movie with the staff. I took the rest of my snacks to the gate. I was told the plane was delayed. I watched some basketball. I was told to move to another gate (they moved lots of flights). Then I got on the plane and waited.
And here I am! I went through customs, and security and or my bags and went looking for my friend. She lived with my family about 12 years ago and I've not seen her since. We found each other ok and met her sister. We are staying at their house in Bangkok.
I'm here!

wat are you looking at?

Yesterday was amazing. My friend took me to see some of the temples in Bangkok.
First we went to a Hindu shrine. She showed me how to do what you do at one. We lit a candle and incense. Then went to all the four sides and asked for something, left incense and flowers.
After that we went to where the wats are. We took the train and then a boat. I had my first in Thailand Thai Tea. Which is my favorite. Then I had my first noodles. Which is my favorite, but I have a feeling it will all be my favorite.
We tried to go to the palace, but it was closed for the cremation of a princess.
So, on to Wat Pho. Um... Wow! Wat Pho is one of the temples with a huge leaning Buddha (I think the guy said 3rd largest). It was amazing, check back with me in 6 months for pictures! Then we had coconut ice-cream (Philippines, we need this) and buko juice. Then we had battered and fried jackfruit. Then we went and had Wat Pho foot massages, which I guess is a big deal. I wasn't brave enough for a Thai massage.
From there we crossed the river to the Temple of the Dawn (I can't recall it's Thai name). This is the Wat that is most associated with the Thai skyline. It was amazing. We were able to climb up and look out. Very calm place.
From here we went to the mall, mainly for the aircon. Felt like home. We met her sister and her boy friend and went to a sea food restaurant. We had a fried fish, Thai fried rice with prawns, a really spicy soup, noodles with prawns, squid curry and some sort of shellfish on ice. It was enough for 6 and we had to do a doggy bag, which I guess isn't that common here. I think my favorite was either the curry or the noodles.
Then home where I slept like a champ.
Favorite part of day: the feeling of smallness (maybe) when I first walked in and saw the leaning Buddha.

witness the wetness

On Friday I met one of J's friends and we went on a little road trip. Her friend has a friend who's family is opening q resort next month. Guessed who got to stay there? We did! It was an amazing suite along the river ( I'm not sure the name of the river, but it's what happens where the rivers Kwei merge).
On the way to the resort we stopped for amazing food. Again they ordered for 6 people: Thai fried rice, prawns, river snapper, and crab curry.
In the town where this all was (if you are dying to know names of these places email me, I have them but I can't reach right now) is a floating market. A floating market that has boats that do firefly tours. We wandered the market, ate random things J bought for me to try, had foot massages, and then went on the tour. It was nice.
The next day we woke up and they had an amazing breakfast spread for us, even though we were the only ones there. Then we went to a Wat in the trees that has a real name. Then back to the city.
We kind of chilled for awhile, then strapped on water guns and headed for the heart of the city. There were millions if people all ages just having fun. Some water was warm, some water was a little hotter, and some people straight up put ice water in their water pistols.
After, soaking wet, we went to the mall to eat. We went to the food hall and I had duck and noodles and shivered through the aircon.
Favorite part: For sure the crab curry.

markets and malls, oh my!

Sunday we went to Jatujak Market, or the JJ Market, or the weekend market. The venue was huge and crowded, and I'm told that maybe 10% of the stalls were open. We looked around and I bought some great stuff.
Then we had Thai Tea. This time it came with a fancy stirring show. A man poured the tea back and forth between to pitchers while spinning and dancing. I was impressed and it tasted extra frothy good.
For dinner we went to a sticky rice place near J's house. We had sticky rice, spicy pork salad, spicy raw prawns, spicy raw crabs, spicy soup, and really good grilled pork shoulder. Not as much food, but I'm still full.
Yesterday we were going to go on a road trip, but decided we'll go today because of traffic. So we tried to see the palace again. We were able to get into the Wat to see the Jade Buddha but the palace is closed on Mondays. Then we went and looked at the main plaza. It was still being used for the Princess's cremation so I was able to learn some more about the culture.
Then we went to Pad Thai. It was so good, a little sweet but fixed that with some chili flakes. It came wrapped up in the egg like a present. I finished and then had another.
Back to the mall! We met up with J's boyfriend and her sister and her boyfriend and wandered the mall and ended up seeing a movie, when in hot humid Asia this is what you do.
After the movie we went to a local favorite for dinner. We had rice soup, spicy soup, duck tongue, some sort of greens, some sort of fish, an egg dish, and sweet snails. So much food.
Favorite part: having so much down time to just hang out with J.

chang chang chang

One of the only things that I felt I HAD to do in Thailand was see elephants. From a very young age I've loved them. Now I'm just straight up obsessed.
We woke up and went to the old capital. I got to see the ruins from atop an elephant. I'm fancy. J was afraid so I went alone. I loved it. Later I fed them. What a cool experience.
Riding elephants is tough work so we went to eat. We had huge river prawns (like the size of my hands, they were not impressed because it use to be you could get bigger) that were grilled, some fish, rice, and  of course spicy soup. Just enough this time.
Then we went around looking and finally finding an arts a d crafts center. I was able to watch the women who weave the queen's silk. Beautiful works.
Then we returned back and went to a Japanese curry place for dinner.
Favorite part: the elephant (Chang in Thai) of course!

when in thailand

For our last day J had us signed up for a spa day. We had a slow start. Got on the train and headed toward the area. We had a lunch of noodles and curry. Perfect. Then walked over to the spa.
It was a tough decision but I opted to go with the Thai massage. I'm not big on massages and I've heard stories of Thai massage. But when in Thailand....
It was indeed intense. She didn't speak English, other than are you ok and I'm sorry. It felt like she was moving my muscles around to get to my bones. I was on my stomach and she said I'm sorry before she even touched me and then she was standing on me. Oh ouch. After I felt fine, almost good. Without speaking to her she figured out my problem areas and worked them.
Later J took me to meet some of her best friends and we had sushi and a delicious dessert. It was so nice to see her with her friends she's known most her life. The teasing and all that. It was nice to experience. Then we we went home and I packed up and leaved.
I missed Thailand before I was even out if the airport. It is amazing and everyone should go. Seriously.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

most adorable* week ever

*Fair warning, this post will use the word adorable to excess.
Summer break is officially here. This week was all about making it happen.
Tuesday was kindergarten graduation. I went and was able to sit at the head table. Filipinos are big on events having head tables. They are also big on events having emcees. They are really big on emcees and guest speakers addressing by name everyone at that head table. The two emcees were two adorable kindergartners, I loved every time they said, 'our Peace Corpse Volunteer Miss Louise Sargent.' I'm guessing had they said corps instead of corpse it would not have been as adorable. Then I got to watch all 137 kids get their diplomas and maybe 40% of them try to give it back. All dressed up in their school uniforms and cap and gowns. There was crying, there was toothless grins, it was just adorable.
Wednesday was recognition day. Again with a head table, again with tiny student emcees. Some high lights: Grade 1 dancing dressed up like ducks, and spiders and monkeys. Grade 2 introducing the guest speaker by reciting a poem in unison that was her resume (they are really big on announcing speakers by telling their resumes-starting with birth). They rhymed my name with please. Adorable. Later they got dressed up like frogs and recited another poem about a frog singing school. Here frogs don't ribbit they khokha  khokha. Then there was some group dances. A folk dance. Ball room dancing, where right in front of me Anthony just about dumped Margareth on her head. Then the Alangalang dance where a couple 1st graders got mixed up and giggled through the whole thing. Adorable. 
Then there was yesterday. Still adorable, but maybe more a sophisticated kind. My Grade 6 graduated. I'm so sad about this. The boys were sitting right in front of me and we made faces at each other through out. They looked miserable in their uniforms and gowns with the sun shining on them. They gave speeches, got awards, gave oaths. Very formal, and kids doing formal stuff is kinda adorable. 
Im really going to miss them.
Good luck guys!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

the power of 21

*First, a disclaimer! I am super happy these days. Things are going good, maybe not as planned but good none the less. This week I entered my 21st month of being here. All that being said, I think it is important to maintain this happy sanity by complaining just a wee bit. Besides it's not so much complaining as it is discussing current realities for posterity's sake.*
I've got two very different things on my mind and really no way to connect them...so sorry for randomness that is my life.
Right now, currently, the sun is shinning but it's been a very soggy week. I know it is nothing like what I was dealing with last year, but as much as I complain about it I miss the sun. Life here is pretty constant. Temperature is almost always in the 70s, humidity at least in the 70s. Sure the real feel temperature changes from hot to hotter, but things here are kind of monotonous. Especially because I live in a part of the country that has wet and wetter seasons and not the dry and wet other areas have. The spring equinox earlier this week on the 21st has me missing seasons. To be even more exact I miss my dry climate and it's seasons, even if three of those are really just degrees of winter.
Now my other complaint. The price of eggs went up. Use to be I'd walk across the street and buy an egg for 6 pisos. I could get it on market day for 5, but I don't fit into the merkado on market day so I avoid it and I didn't mind that extra piso when I knew it was going o my neighbors. Well, then the eggs were 7 and then the eggs were none. So now I have to go to the merkado, I get six for 33 pisos on market day.
Truth be told my compliant is not how the price of eggs went up, but how much this has put me in a pinch. My allowance is smaller than my teachers salary, but more than most Filipinos and I've done just fine by it. I went 16 months with really no thought to what I was doing. I'd get my deposit on the 21st take out my money and go about my way. 
Then December happened. The deposit didn't come on the 21st it came on the 26th. And let me tell you, that week makes a difference. 
Then January happened. I had to spend a week in Manila, which let me tell you is expensive. I came back to site basically broke. Luckily we do get medical per diem, but it's after the fact so those actual real life days are out of pocket. The deposit that I was hoping for, with all that extra money, wasn't on the 21st but again on the 26th.
Then February happened. Back to Manila. Back to pulling money out of my pocket to be paid later. This time we got smart and didn't expect money on the normal date. Which is probably why it was extra frustrating that the deposit didn't drop on the 26th, 27th, 28th, or even on that extra bonus day the 29th. It came in March. 
March. I've not even checked for deposits yet.  I've got about 100 pisos, and a little in my account. We're not suppose to drop below 5000, this year I've failed, haha. Sadly I had to go to Manila twice this month. Luckily I'm done with Manila barring a medical emergency. 
When the deposit does drop I'll have three medical reimbursements with it. I should be able to stay in the green, but what a time for the price of eggs to go up, huh?

Thursday, March 01, 2012

tongue tied

A couple weeks ago I was asked by C to help her do a speech and pronuncation workshop/camp. I was totally gung ho to help. She focused on public speaking and I did a focus on pronunciation which included Filipino English versus American ways of saying things. Luckily Filipinos love tongue twisters. It was nice to have something to work on. At first the idea was two days of teaching the same stuff to groups of about 100. A lot, but some classes in the Philippines honestly have 90 kids. Then it turned into one day of maybe 400 students. Which is when we started to feel all that nervousness. It ended up being over 500  kids around the age of 16. The space was the size of gym. A real gym. Most of my ideas to make this an interactive event for these kids were sidelined, but we both managed. C did great. I hate to do this, but I've posted lots of pictures on Facebook and just don't have the patience to post some here. I am posting a video! C did this activity where the kids had to make their faces as small as possible and as big as possible. The kids in the video are first very very small and gradually getting bigger to huge. I hope you like it!

another rainy season

I'm not sure if rainy season is over or not, but it has been super hot lately. The rains came later this year than last year, and they didn't come nearly as hard, nearly as all the time, nearly as soul crushing. 

the coconut nut is not a nut

I've been doing a pen pal project with one of my dearest friends. Her kids are about the same age as my kids. I just got the second batch of letters from her this week, but we didn't have classes until yesterday. They've been studying for standardized testing for weeks now, which is not fun and I think they welcomed the escape. Right after I stopped the video they got yelled at and I felt kind of bad. They are use to it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

hoodlums and other goings on

February 22, 2012
What to blog about when you haven’t blogged about in forever? Who knows?
My thoughts lately have been on my Grade 6 pupils. Honestly as much as I completely hate them as a unit (but not always) I am really going to miss all the characters that make up that unit.
Yesterday Jocelyn hit Xed right in the forehead. It may have been an accident, and it may have been deserved. The look on his face was that priceless shock, when he finally gained composure he said, ‘That could make me comatose.’ I laughed and was super glad I was able to witness that moment. Who are these kids?
I guess while I was in Manila last week to see the dentist they made the student teacher cry. I don’t know how and I don’t know why, but I do know she won’t be teaching them. Which… ok.
So they are cute, and they are difficult, and I’m going to miss them. And apparently I’m going to be done with them sooner than I thought. Way back in January I wanted to have a sit down with my principal about my last months here. Today we finally had that talk. I walked in with all sorts of ideas, and she dropped a reading class on me. Drop isn’t fair. We’ve talked about it on and off but nothing has happened. But she dropped it in the sense that she said how about that reading class, starting March 6. Which is two weeks away. Which the school year ends the last week of that same month. I tried to explain this to her, and she didn’t care. I said what happens to the program when I leave. She said oh you have teachers. Which I don’t know why, made me feel 1,000 times better.
We are starting on that date (but I’ll be in Manila). Maybe all day, may half days. Either way I’m going to be seeing a lot less of those Grade 6 hoodlums.
I hope this reading program works, and can get started early next year. I think this will keep me busy to get on out of here.
I’ve been nagging more on the library, which I think is finally sinking in. It helps that the governor just gave us a computer. While I was talking to my principal about what can we do in these next 8-9 months they were installing Internet. Things take forever, but once they start they tend to fly.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

yaya sisterhood

January 25, 2012
This week one of the teachers I work with had her daughter at school because her yaya was out of town. They were talking about how in US there is Day Care so teachers never have to take their kids to school if their baby sitter is sick or not able to work. Then they looked at me and asked if we had babysitters. I said yes, I use to be baby sit and I was a bit of a nanny once.
The look they gave me. It said so much, it said:
“But you are a teacher’
“We think less of you of now”
“But you have an education”
“But you’re not a second class citizen”
“But your parents had good jobs”
And so much more along the same lines of them thinking I was above that line of work. In the Philippines they for sure have a bit of a caste system. Principals are big deals because they are Principals and not because they are in charge of the whole school. Yayas and house helpers are little deals because they are house help. Even within the teachers Master Teachers are more important than regular teachers.
These teachers really didn’t know how to take in the knowledge that me, the white educated teacher that was volunteering these two years to help their pupils was also a baby sitter. I’m glad I was.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

more waterfalls

The next day we went on a hike to the big waterfalls. I went here last time I was in Sagada and it was so different this time. There was so much more water.  Still just as amazing.

bare bones operation

The day after Christmas L and  I went on some hikes. The first was to see Hanging Coffins.

After we got done with that part of the hike I suggested to L that we go see the little waterfalls and maybe spend the afternoon reading and eating and doing nothing. As we were walking up the road to the trail there was a group of boys in the road. They asked where we were going and I said the little waterfalls. Next thing I knew they were our tour guides. One even had a giant branch he told us to follow. It was basically a straight shot and guides weren't really needed but it was cute. When we go to the waterfall they told us to go down, and then they continued walking up.

Next thing we knew all the boys were at the top of the waterfall in just their underwear. It was so random and well awkward. We ended up not sitting all day and reading on account of our mostly naked 9-year-old guides.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

apparently it's NOT hip to be a square

January 21, 2012
I try so hard to remember that things are different here; they aren’t better they aren’t worse just different.
I always get asked questions about classroom management at home, which is tough one to field. We don’t have 40+ kids in a tiny classroom with desks that are falling apart. I think that is the main thing. In the U.S. I wouldn’t have to tell kids to sit in their proper seats, and if I did they would. Here I tell them and Tricia gives me a sugary smile and says wait. I say now and she moves. It is not a big deal, but a deal that just wouldn’t happen in the States. A child would never tell a teacher wait. I just don’t know how to explain this to teachers who are doing the best they can to maintain their massive population of students.
I’ve been working with a student teacher, and he is a good teacher but has very little as far as classroom behavior controls, or even expectations. I think he is still too nervous about the lesson to worry about if kids are paying attention or not. Yesterday he was teaching and some kids in the back were not paying attention at all. I asked why, and Marc Vincent looked at me and said that he was too cool to pay attention. I didn’t even know what to say. Then the class dismissed early to go to Grade 6 mass (on Thursday we dismissed early for a Grade 5 mass).
It is just so different here.

things that go bump in the night

January 18, 2012
Because of the prime location for my house it kind of sways and shakes all the time, especially at night. I’m just off the high way and if a big enough vehicle goes by fast enough the house has a slight rattle. Annoying, but nothing completely major.
Well the other night I was between awake and asleep and the house rattled. I sat up awake enough to groggily think that my bed was swaying and it normally doesn’t do that. Then I lay back down asleep enough to not register that maybe there was a reason my bed was shaking when it normally doesn’t.
I snoozed on through the night and forgot about the incident until I got a text from C asking if I felt the earth quake. LIGHT BULB! It was an earthquake. Growing up where I did I’ve survived millions of earthquakes, but this is the first one I’ve ever felt. It was on the island east of us. At the epicenter it was magnitude 5.7 and I’m guessing maybe just above a 3 here.
Now I’ve had typhoons, tsunami warnings, and an earthquake in service.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

we'll take a cup of kindness yet...

The past couple of weeks have been crazy and amazing! I took pictures, but they are still on my camera and my computer is at home. I'm sitting in Manila in the Peace Corps office recovering from a tooth extraction I had on Tuesday. That was fine, I didn't care for the dentist and the way the whole thing was handled made it extra stressful, so all you need to know is on Monday I had the tooth, today I don't.
Before Tuesday:
I went back to the mountains! This trip and the trip I took in April were probably my favorite parts of last year. I went up Wednesday with a bunch of other volunteers from my island/area. On Thursday we were suppose go to a place that has mummies but due to a whole list of reasons that didn't work out, which turned out to be best because it was a lot farther away than we thought. On Friday we went up to Sagada and relaxation began. As well as the walking up and down hills to get any where.
For Christmas Eve we splurged and made reservations at this super nice French cook restaurant for their holiday buffet. So completely amazing! Christmas we ate, we read, we had many cups of tea, we played cards. We relaxed. The rest of the week we hiked, we ate, we had many cups of tea, we read, we played cards, we relaxed.
Then Thursday morning we woke up early got on a bus and went back to Baguio. Spent the day in Baguio and took a night bus to Manila, where we ate and read and played cards and avoided losing limbs to fire crackers in the streets. For New Years Eve we went to Rizal park and celebrated with a bunch of families. Filipinos love to celebrate and it is nice for it to be so family oriented! Great way to start my last 11 (or so) months in country.